The first time I made pastries they were a nightmare. On impulse at 11pm I decided to ‘quickly’ russel up some dough ready for the next morning – boy was that a bad idea. Half way through piling yet more butter into the middle it all started to melt which meant it oozed out the cracks when I folded the dough and stuck to everything it possibly could including me! Persevering, I managed to assemble some slightly dodgy looking almond croissants. Nevertheless, freshly baked the next morning they tasted divine (as only something with a whole pat of butter could!) and though I said never again, I couldn’t help but hanker to make more as a bank holiday treat, as they far surpass any supermarket pastry – and so here they are – some seriously rustic but utterly delicious almond pastries.
For the pastry dough
450g strong plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
350g butter, chilled
1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast
50g caster sugar
10 tablespoons warm milk
2 eggs, beaten
A little beaten egg to glaze
100g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
Enough beaten egg to bind
Glacé icing (100g sieved icing sugar mixed with a little water)
- Measure the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in 50g of the butter. Mix in the yeast and sugar.
- Make a well in the centre, add the warm milk and eggs, and mix to a soft dough.
- Knead the dough until smooth (I use the bread attachment of my mixer) and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled (about 1hr)
- Punch down the dough, knead until smooth and roll, on a floured surface, to an oblong about 35-20 cms
- Dot half the remaining butter over the top two third of the oblong (making sure not to go too near the edges), then fold the bottom third up and the top third down. Seal the edges by pushing down with the side of your hand.
- Give a quarter turn so that the fold is on the left and roll to an oblong, cover with butter and fold all in the same way.
- Wrap in cling film and chill for 15 mins. Roll and fold the dough twice more then refrigerate again for 15mins
- It is now ready for shaping. N.B. if you find butter has squeezed out, roll with cling film on top to stop sticking.
- For a croissant shape: Roll one quarter of the dough into a circle 23cm across. Cut into four across the middle to make four quarters. Take one, place a heaped teaspoon of the almond paste along the curved edge and then roll starting at the longest edge.
- Glaze with the egg and cook for 15mins at 200˚ C
- Cool on a wire rack, drizzle with the glace icing and sprinkle with the almonds